Q: How can I support PAWS?

A:  There are many ways in which animal lovers can help PAWS. 

Since we are a registered charity with no government funding we rely solely on donations from animal lovers like YOU to enable us to continue saving innocent lives.  We do not have paid staff so your dollars go directly to help the animals.  Because PAWS enforces a strict no-kill policy, we have very high veterinary costs to ensure quality of life for animals with disabilities and chronic ailments.  Spaying and neutering is also costly with every animal entering the PAWS shelter (once they are old enough) being altered.  For information on how to make your donation NOW please click here].

Donations of food, litter and sundry items are also welcome.  However, because change is often unwelcome to cats, we do try to maintain regularity in their litter and food.  Please contact the shelter to find out what brands we use and what other items are on our Wish List.

We always welcome volunteers; diverse skills are an asset in animal rescue so whatever your interest we can find a way to accommodate you.  What is most important is that you are reliable, positive and love animals.  With the right volunteers in place we can move mountains.

Fundraising is always of great importance to PAWS and we welcome any efforts on your behalf to raise awareness about our shelter and to bring in much-needed funds.  Whether you ask friends to donate to PAWS in lieu of birthday gifts, hold a bake sale at your school or donate a portion of your company’s profits to our rescue you are helping us to provide quality care for animals in need.  For a list of fundraising ideas click here.

Remembering PAWS in your will is also a wonderful way to ensure your love for animals is a lasting legacy.  Please take a moment to review the following page for further information.

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Q: Where is the PAWS shelter located?

A: Our main shelter is located in Ontario's beautiful Muskokas. We also have a number of foster homes in the greater Toronto area and visits can be arranged by contacting us directly.

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Q: Can you help find a home for my companion animal?

A: This is the most frequently asked question of any/all animal rescue organizations.  First of all, please think very carefully about your decision to give up your friend.  Many seemingly untenable situations can be solved with a little research, patience and effort.  We are more than happy to advise you on behavioural issues, allergy problems and other issues that arise with companion animals.  Remember that to you, your animal may simply be a small part of your life but to them you are their whole world.

If you still insist on giving up your animal we can help by posting them on Petfinder and/or 1-800-Save-a-Pet and possibly directing adopters to you.  Simply e-mail us a JPG picture and detailed description including personality traits, age, sex, whether or not they are spayed or neutered, etc.  If we are not full we may consider bringing your friend into our program but most of our spaces are reserved for animals on the street who are homeless and suffering the elements or who are otherwise in serious distress.

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Q:   What do I do if I find a stray/homeless animal?

A:  First of all, it is important to ascertain whether the animal is indeed homeless.  Many people let their cats roam without collars so if the cat appears well fed and healthy they may just be on an afternoon jaunt.  It is far more unlikely to find a dog wandering alone so a dog in this situation is probably lost.

DO NOT relinquish the animal to any facility that is not VERIFIABLY NO-KILL.  You do not want this animal to end up on Death Row or in a research lab (yes, this is what abandoned animals who find themselves in the wrong facilities face each and every day).  The decisions you make for this animal can and will have an effect on the rest of their life.  Be kind, patient and compassionate and make the necessary effort to see that the outcome of your rescue is positive.

Ensure that your ‘rescue’ is kept separate from other companion animals in your home until they have been examined by a reputable veterinarian.  We suggest treatment for fleas or ear mites (which is not terribly expensive).  As the saying goes – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (thanks to treatments such as Revolution and Advantage, fleas and ear mites are easily dealt with in one treatment).  It might be inconvenient initially, but rest assured, you have done the right thing by rescuing the animal from the dangers of our streets.  The outcome will be positive whether you are successful in locating the original family, finding a loving forever home or deciding that your newfound friend is meant to stay with you forever.

Take the animal to a reputable veterinarian to have them scanned for a microchip and to find out whether there have been any reports of lost or missing animals matching the description of the animal in your charge.  If they are microchipped, the veterinary clinic will contact the owner and the animal you have assisted will be returned to their family.

If the animal is not microchipped ask the veterinarian to examine them.  Does this animal require medical treatment of any sort?  Are they spayed or neutered?  Instruct the vet to treat for fleas, ear mites or other internal parasites as necessary.  PAWS applies Revolution and gives Drontal to each cat we rescue prior to admitting them to our shelter.  If you can foster or adopt the animal, this is ideal as it relieves the burden on local animal rescues which are always overcrowded.  If the animal appears scruffy or seems to be ill, you can most likely assume that they have been abandoned (or are lost).

If the animal you have rescued is spayed or neutered, you may wish to place a FREE ad in the Toronto Star (depending on where they were found) in the Lost/Found section in an effort to find their family.  Call 416-777-7777 for their Classified Department.  This ad will run for 1 week at no cost to you.  Should someone contact you claiming the animal is theirs, be sure to request proof (i.e. a picture/veterinary records/etc.).

If the animal is not claimed and you would like PAWS to assist with placement, take a good colour picture of them and create a poster advertising that the animal has been found.  Once a copy of this poster is provided to PAWS and other local shelters such as Animal Control and Humane Societies, please also distribute it in the area where the animal was found, at local pet stores, veterinary clinics etc.  Be sure to include your telephone number and screen people carefully when they call to ensure they can provide details about the animal.  Sadly, there are people in society who recruit animals to sell them for research purposes.  Please be mindful of this and consult our volunteers for tips on how to carefully interview potential adopters.  There are wonderful, loving, responsible homes out there … do not settle for second best.

Canvas friends, family members, neighbours, co-workers and other animal lovers if you need to find another home for the animal.  NEVER ADVERTISE “FREE TO A GOOD HOME” as this attracts unscrupulous people.  If someone is truly interested in providing a loving home for an animal in need, they will not balk at a small adoption fee.  This ‘fee’ can be used to offset any costs you have incurred or you can direct these monies to your favourite animal rescue organization (which we hope is PAWS).

If you have no other options and absolutely cannot find a place for the animal, you can contact local animal rescues to see if they have space.  Please keep in mind that these organizations are operated by volunteers on shoestring budgets.  It is not their obligation to take in animals; they do it out of compassion and love.   Rescues have limitations and must curb the number of animals accepted into their program to ensure quality care for their current inhabitants.

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Q:  How do I know if the cat I have rescued is ‘feral’?

A:  Cats who are born outside without human contact are referred to as ‘feral’ cats.  They often mistrust humans and, if not handled before 4 or 5 months of age, can be difficult to integrate into a household.  However, many cats deemed ‘feral’ are actually just lost or abandoned; they are usually terrified and rightfully so.  It is difficult to determine whether or not a cat is truly ‘wild’ or ‘feral’ when they are first rescued (sometimes it is necessary to humanely trap these cats which, naturally, scares them even more).  Many rescue organizations either trap, spay/neuter and release these cats or they simply kill them.  PAWS strongly disagrees with both of these methods – the latter in particular.

Our experience suggests that, when our volunteers are kind and patient with these animals, the majority of them can be ‘tamed’ or domesticated.  It also helps to house these cats with other friendly felines who will help them with their trust issues.  It is very fulfilling to watch one of these deserving creatures emerge from their fearful shell.

If you have rescued a cat, please follow our suggestions under “What do I do if I find a stray/homeless animal?”  If they are not friendly at first, give them time to adjust.  It could take days, weeks, even months but they deserve to live.  Please find a place in your heart and your home for this cat.  You never know, you may just find them next to you on the couch one day soon.

Don’t listen to what PAWS volunteers call the ‘naysayers’.  Do NOT kill these animals and don’t give up.  You’re doing the right thing by hanging in there.

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Q:  Why should I spay or neuter?

A:  Simply put, when you don’t spay or neuter your companion animals you contribute to the overpopulation problem.  There are not enough good homes to go around for the animals who are bursting the seams of humane societies and animal rescues around the globe.  When you spay or neuter you ensure that you are not burdening the system further.  Even if your animal has kittens or puppies and you find homes for all of them you are still contributing to the problem as you have just deprived a shelter animal of the possibility of those homes.

Spaying or neutering is also a positive step for the health of your animals.  Males become less aggressive and are less prone to spraying or fighting.  Both genders suffer less illnesses and diseases when they are altered.

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Q: Why shouldn’t I declaw?

A:  Declawing is a cruel and unnecessary procedure akin to having the first knuckle of your finger removed.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not a simple paring down of the nails.  It is very painful for the cat and, in almost all cases, negatively affects personality and behaviour as the cat feels defenseless and is deprived of a natural extension of their perfect feline bodies.

Through tiny scent glands, cats use their claws to mark their territory, to engage in stretching and, of course, for defence.  The problem with most guardians is they are asking the wrong question.  You shouldn’t ask “How do I stop my cat from scratching?”  You should ask “How do I REDIRECT my cat’s scratching?”  Cats will not stop scratching.  Nor should they.  It is a natural, healthy, instinctive behaviour.  However, they do NOT have to scratch your brand new couch or oak-trim doorways.  Purchase a TALL sisal wrapped scratching post as this provides the best purchase for claws.  Do not buy carpet wrapped scratching posts as this will simply encourage your cat to sink their claws into your favourite Persian rug as well.  You can cover the scratching posts in catnip to encourage visits and reward your companion with praise and treats.  For the worst offenders, there are even nail caps which you can purchase which protect your furniture AND your kitty’s claws.

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Q:  What if I adopt an animal from PAWS but I change my mind or can’t keep them for some reason?

A:  We make every effort to ensure that you are adopting an animal who suits your personality and living arrangements.  You can help us by being completely honest about your home environment and your likes and dislikes.  It is very important to listen to our advice.  For example, the prettiest cat may not be comfortable with children or might dislike dogs so it is vital that you look further than aesthetics when considering your new family member.

Of course it can be traumatic and disruptive for both you and the animal when they are brought back.  However once an animal is accepted into our program we make it our mission to ensure their health and happiness and this does not change after adoption.  Therefore if an adoption is unsuccessful for any reason, we will accept the animal back into our shelter.  We guarantee this to our adopters in writing.

WE NEVER KILL THESE ANIMALS.  If possible they will be re-adopted.  If not, they will live out the rest of their lives at our shelter.  If an animal has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or if their immune system is compromised, they are lovingly cared for at the PAWS shelter for as long as they are pain-free and enjoying a decent quality of life.  Until such time as they are ready to cross the rainbow bridge …

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Q:  I would like to make arrangements for my animal(s) in the event of my illness or death – what do I do?

A:  PAWS encourages everyone with companion animals to consider what we call AFTER CARE.  Whether you are 25 years old or 75 years young – if you love your family members (this includes the four-legged ones) you must make arrangements for them should you no longer be able to care for them or yourself.  PAWS volunteers receive MANY calls – almost on a daily basis - from family members who have lost a loved one and who are unwilling to accept that person’s animals into their home.  DON’T let this happen to your four-legged friends.  The outcome can be very serious as most ‘shelters’ do not enforce no-kill policies and some provide animals for research purposes.  Protect your loyal pals – make arrangements for After Care NOW!

After Care …

One of the realities of life is that through an untimely tragedy or by natural aging, a beloved companion animal may well survive us.  They are members of our family and we need to think about their care and protection when we can no longer provide it.  Don’t overlook your animals when making your estate plans.  If there is someone whom you think may agree to take your furry friends, talk it over with them NOW.  If they have reservations, now is the time to find out.

Should you wish to have your companion animals taken in by a responsible, no-kill shelter such as PAWS, you can indicate whether you wish for them to live out the rest of their natural lives at the shelter, or have the shelter find them a new, carefully selected, loving home.  Here is a sample provision you can insert in your will to protect your animals.

“If at the time of my death I am the guardian of a companion animal(s), I direct my Executor to deliver them as soon as possible to PAWS (Peoples Animal Welfare Society), (a) to be cared for there until a suitable permanent home is arranged OR (b) to be cared for at their shelter for the rest of their natural lives.  I further direct that a bequest of $_____ be paid to PAWS (Peoples Animal Welfare Society) in consideration of their good work.”

You should discuss such provisions with your lawyer, amend them as need be and then update your will without delay.

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Q:  Do you only help cats?

A:  PAWS has assisted tens of thousands of animals since our inception in 1972.  We have always believed in helping all animals which has included cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, birds, hedgehogs, snakes, lizards and turtles.  Most people are not aware of the current cat overpopulation crisis we are facing in North America.  Because there are so many felines in need our rescue efforts tend to focus on these animals

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Q:  Does PAWS help with wildlife?

A: PAWS volunteers refer all inquiries about wildlife issues to reputable no-kill wildlife rescue organizations throughout Ontario – depending on your location.  Please contact us for more information.

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Q:  I am going on vacation – what should I do with my companion animal(s)?

A:  If possible, cats should be left in your home as they dislike change and are much more comfortable in their home environment.  If you can, have a reliable friend or relative whom you trust come in to feed them, change their litters and spend some time with them.  If this is not an option, there are many experienced/reputable “pet sitters” who will come to your home and tend to your cats’ needs.  Often, they are able to administer special medications as well as feeding and cleaning litters and sometimes they will even take care of the rest of your home while you are away (i.e. watering plants).  This is also beneficial as your home will appear ‘lived in’ while you are absent.  To find a good pet sitter you may want to ask your veterinarian or a friend/neighbour or relative for a referral.  First hand referrals are always best.  Also, check to see if the sitter is bonded and pay attention to whether they are responsive to the specific needs of your cats.  Your last option is a boarding facility.  These are less desirable as it takes your cats out of their home environment.  However some boarding facilities are very well-run and provide quality care, including stimulation and exercise, throughout your cats’ stay.

Dogs are less place-oriented and more person-oriented.  They want to be with you if at all possible.  This is becoming more of an option as increasing numbers of hotels, motels and campsites welcome well-behaved companion animals.  When traveling ensure that either your cat or dog is secure in the car.  They should always be crated comfortably in a secure carrying case.  Animals should not ride loose in the car for their own protection and yours.

Bring lots of fresh food and provide water at frequent intervals.  Never leave your animals in a hot car unattended and do not leave windows open enough for them to jump out.  Once loose in a strange location, you may never be able to track them down.  Take your veterinarian’s telephone number with you and find out IN ADVANCE if there is a reputable vet in the area where you will be vacationing.  We also recommend inquiring about the nearest emergency clinic – you can’t be too careful when it comes to your loved ones and preparation is the key to a stress-free vacation.

If taking your dog is not an option refer to the choices above for cats.  These solutions also apply to any other domestic animals who share your home.  Ensure that whoever is caring for your animals has your veterinarian’s contact info, the number for an emergency vet and your contact information

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Q:  My cat is spraying – someone suggested that I ‘put him down’ – is this the right way to handle this situation?

A:  Absolutely NOT.  If you have a cat who is spraying or otherwise urinating or defecating outside of the litter box take them to your veterinarian right away.  This is the number one symptom of illness.  Once you have ruled out medical issues consider whether anything has changed in your cat’s environment.  Have you moved?  Have you brought in a new companion animal?  Is there a new baby?  Have roommates changed?  Has there been a divorce?  Have you changed foods or relocated the litter box? As with people, animals are stressed by change and this will be reflected in their behaviour.  Cats are particularly sensitive to upheaval and it is decidedly unfair to consider taking your cat’s life because they are experiencing emotional upset.

Once you have pinpointed the cause of the problem work backwards to a solution.  If it is a new animal in the house, go back to square one by introducing the animals slowly.  Contact us for further information on how to do this successfully; we also may be able to advise you on other behavioural issues.  It is very seldom that there is a problem that cannot be resolved eventually with some understanding and effort.  You can also contact an animal communicator or counselor who may be able to help you understand what is happening inside your cat’s head. Be patient with your animals; they go through ups and downs just like we do.

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Q:  Is there a safe alternative to letting my cat(s) outside?

A:  PAWS foster homes provide outdoor enclosures in order that our rescued cats may enjoy the outdoors – safely.  This does not have to be an expensive undertaking.  Do you know someone who is handy?  Perhaps he or she can assist.  Feel free to contact us today should you wish to view one of our enclosures.

The Cats Den is another option.  Their attractive-looking, reasonably-priced enclosures are safe and maintenance-free.  Contact Kris today at 416-466-8930 or kris@thecatsden.net or go to their web site at www.thecatsden.net.

Tell Kris we sent you to qualify for the PAWS discount!

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Q:  Do you ever euthanize animals?

A:  We have a no-kill policy which means exactly what it says.  We never KILL animals.  We feel that there is a distinction between killing and euthanasia.  When shelters “put down” healthy animals because of overcrowding, animals who are debilitated but otherwise happy or any other animal they deem unworthy of life we consider this to be killing.  Euthanasia refers to the practice of ending an animal’s life when it is determined that they are in severe pain or can no longer enjoy quality of life.

Here at PAWS, if an animal has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or if their immune system is compromised, they are lovingly cared for at the PAWS shelter for as long as they are pain-free and enjoying a decent quality of life.  It is only when an animal is experiencing great distress that, in consultation with our veterinarian, we may make the difficult decision to have them humanely euthanized.  This is not a decision that is made easily and we assure our supporters that no expense is ever spared in saving or prolonging innocent lives.

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